La Porta, the new Italian Ristorante and Wine Bar of Media, is reminiscent of those roadside eateries you might see in a 1950’s era movie. Located alongside Route 352, where the old Locust Crest Tavern stood for decades, Chef Peter McAndrews is now serving thin crust pizzas and Italian dishes. In addition to their wine menu, they serve a few craft beers on tap and offer six-packs for takeout.
The restaurant section consists of two rooms with white stucco walls and is decorated to give an old world Italian feel to the space. The menu is broken down into five categories: Spuntini or Snacks, Antipizza, Le Paste, Pizza, and Insalate. Our waitress explained the snacks are smaller portions than the antipizza servings.
I chose my starter off the “Spuntini” menu, deciding on the Portafoglio. This was a large portobello mushroom topped with a fried egg, asiago and caper butter for $6. The portobello was surprisingly crunchy, as if the bottom had been lightly breaded, and the ‘shroom soaked up the yolk once I cut through the fried egg. It was a delightful way to start off the meal.
My date selected the Pollo di Buffala off the Antipizza menu for her starter – spicy chicken wings with gorgonzola di buffala and apricots. They were small wings – about 12 in total. She asked the waitress about the spiciness, and was assured they were not too hot, though “they could make them spicier if you’d like.” I sampled a few, along with the ample buffalo sauce and sliced up apricots. The buffalo sauce was mild and played nicely off the gorgonzola cheese and the coolness of the apricots. While they were not spicy, the wings were extremely hot to the touch.
The emphasis at La Porta is the brick oven pizzas, and their menu explains, “It will be thin crusted and have areas of char, this is the classic way!” The menu also playfully warns diners, “Please do not try to alter your pizza in any way; hence it may compromise its integrity!” They offer eleven choices with interesting combinations and names such as as Margherita, Malfatti, Bismarck and Barolo. I could see returning and ordering a different pizza each time.
La Porta has been open less than a week, and our waitress was friendly and a bit overzealous, delivering the pizza while we were still eating our starters. Our thin crust pie came with roasted peppers, a salty bacon known as pancetta, plum tomato, mozzarella, gorgonzola dolce and basil. It was a strange shape – more rectangular than round. It’s definitely as advertised – very thin crust with char that crunched in the mouth.
While my date was still enjoying her final slice of pizza, the waitress asked if we wanted to order desserts. It made us feel a bit rushed. We were dining early in the evening, just after five p.m., and the waitstaff was preparing themselves for the night. They exuded the energy of those new in a job, excited but still feeling their way.
La Porta Ristorante & Wine Bar is located at 1192 North Middletown Road, which is commonly referred to as Route 352. Phone number is 610-358-5104.